Dispute with an estate worth £2m

13 Sep 2021 | Jan Atkinson

Osbornes Law were appointed independent administrator in this contentious probate dispute, with an estate worth around £2m. The deceased was the majority shareholder in a property investment company. Before she died, her affairs and those of her late husband were taken over by one of their four children. That son proceeded to make large lifetime gifts from his parents’ funds and devised a ‘tax mitigation strategy’ which involved converting the property investment company into a trading company, with a view to claiming business property relief (BPR) on his parents’ deaths. Following the deaths, the son took over the estate administration with minimal assistance from professionals. BPR was ultimately accepted by HMRC but the son’s actions as director of the company and executor of the estate, including his expenditure and the mixing of estate and company funds, have been called into question. In addition, the son made large distributions to himself and one of his siblings paid himself a large ‘wage’ for his role as a company director and appears to have acquired a property from the company without having paid for it. The son failed to cooperate with enquiries made by his siblings and proceedings were issued, wherein Jan Atkinson was appointed.

We are still in the process of reconciling the company/estate assets and expenditure. The company has been wound up. Once the accountant’s reconciliation has been accepted and cross-checked against bank statements, we will need to calculate the adjustments required between the estate and the company and between siblings, to make sure the four children receive the same amount in value. We have calculated the distributions required between the beneficiaries in order to achieve equalisation up to the point when the figures are not in dispute. There is still some way to go on this because a reconciliation based on company bank statements is still to be finalised as between the estate and the company. As an independent administrator, Jan Atkinson will then need, based on the advice of counsel, to propose the sum, if any, to be paid out to the siblings and then decide whether any action should/needs to be taken against the son to ensure all estate assets are fully accounted for and to make sure the four children receive the same amount in value from their mother’s estate. In the absence of an agreement to the independent administrator’s proposals, an application to court will be made to authorise the proposed distributions being suggested by Jan Atkinson, on the advice of counsel.

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    • Jan Atkinson is an impressive lawyer who knows her way around private wealth dispute matters. She is very experienced in lengthy and fraught disputes and knows how to achieve good solutions for all parties involved. She is very on the ball and works very efficiently.

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    • The team is very caring, experienced and detailed and was clear about the  next steps and offered very helpful advice and suggestions

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    • Jan Atkinson has extensive experience in private client matters, which underpins her excellent skills in the contentious probate area. Plus she is strong on international matters

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      The Legal 500

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